As the weather gets warmer each and every June, the city routinely begins to wear less clothing. Sundress season is the thing of wet dreams … or cringe-worthy nightmares, varying with each passerby offering more visual stimulus than all the major television networks combined.
The last bikini I’ve worn was lime green on top and hot pink on the bottom with black suspenders connecting the two. I was eight and too young and naive to care about body image or what people thought of me. I grew fast, reaching 5’6″ by the time I was 11 and I grew to love food very early on with parents who took me out to eat quite often and cooked gourmet meals almost daily.
Ten years ago, I lost nearly a hundred pounds. I don’t talk about it because honestly I don’t remember being that person very well. That life, the one in which I was overweight, is so far removed from me at this point that I am only reminded of it when I look in the mirror and see old stretch marks. Or when I go to my mothers house and see my high school graduation picture displayed on the wall, even though she knows I hate it. I don’t talk about it because it just isn’t who I am any more.
Over the years, I’ve read so many columns and stories about getting healthy and losing weight and all of them, every single one, is full of fucking shit. Losing weight isn’t about smoothies, vegetable intake or portion control. It isn’t about paying money to a support group who weighs you or exercising. It isn’t about meatless diets or all meat diets or not eating bread.
If you want to know how to lose weight, find the reason you’re overeating and fix it. You are an addict and like all addictions something is prompting it on a deeper level.
Overeating is an addiction plain and simple. You will never not struggle with weight. You will never suddenly lose 50 pounds while continuing to eat pints of ice cream for dinner and fried chicken for late night snacks. It will always be a part of you in the same exact way an alcoholic will never not be an alcoholic.
You have similar episodes of denial in how many calories you’re actually eating, or say to yourself “But I don’t eat that much! I don’t understand.” And unlike illegal drugs, drinking or cigarettes, you are inundated daily everywhere you go with tasty treats. Commercials sell you their product dripping with sugar and calories. Every major holiday is arranged surrounding the tradition of gorging with your family or loved ones. What movie would be complete without popcorn and a bucket of soda? Who goes on a date in this day in age without drinks in a bar or dinner in a restaurant?
Now as a former fat girl, the last thing I will do is preach to anyone. If you’re happy, roll with it. Fuck the world and what people think. Confidence knows no shapes or sizes. All I can do is offer you my story and how I fixed and maintained a healthy weight for the last ten years, simply because I wasn’t happy. Who I saw when I looked in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be.
First, I changed my behavior and particularly how I reacted to stress. Eating the correct, healthier versions of food is only part one. I binged eat, and I did it often. If a boy didn’t call me, I sat by the phone eating out of stress. If I got a bad grade, I ate a pint of ice cream to feel better. And not only did I do so for me, but I supported friends or family with their emotional issues by binge eating with them. I would have sleep over parties with a friend who just got dumped with a table covered in junk food.
Acknowledging how much stress you’re actually under and understanding your behavior helps you control it better. I personally can’t eat just one potato chip. Even not stressed, I would eat a whole can of Pringles if I could, so I switched to eating a single piece of chocolate when a crazy client leaves my office because I can control my sweet tooth more than I can my love of starches.
Recognize and eliminate those who promote overindulging. Everyone has a friend or family member who wants an eating buddy who buys cookies or peer pressures you into eating unhealthy while out. Stop letting other people keep you fat and learn how to not eat when you’re not hungry.
A great misconception I had early on was that I couldn’t ever be the people I saw on TV or in magazines. I was one of those asshole kids who never had to try to study or get good grades, so I was always praised for my intellect and never told I was pretty. One day I had an astounding revelation when I saw a picture of what models looked like without makeup on or their hair done up. In reality most of them look really awkward or even kind of ridiculous without hiding behind perfect angles or photography tricks like airbrushing. So one day I started playing with a camera myself and finding out different ways I looked pretty with what I had. And more importantly, I found I could look even better if I wanted to. In a lot of ways I hid behind my weight to keep people away because I didn’t think I could ever be what they wanted, and then I realized I wasn’t even trying to be what I wanted because I was resigned incorrectly to the fact that it was unachievable.
The last step is change. Be realistic and stop making excuses. You do not need an exercise wardrobe or a gym membership to burn calories. I have never jogged a day in my life. I hate running. I hate the gym and the smell of sweat and testosterone that permeates the air as you walk in. I found other ways to exercise. I walk to work or walk a mile to the supermarket and carry my bags home. I buy less and go out more often which helps me have less food in the house. I walk my dog every day, rain or shine. I schedule time every day to walk at lunch to burn off stress. Gyms are great if you can keep to a routine, but incorporating exercise into your daily routine works just as well. Walk around a mall or two until the clothes look better on you. Walk around a museum instead of sitting in a movie. The air conditioning works just as well.
I’ve been a size six for many years now, but if you want to see who I used to be ask my mom to cook you dinner one night. My graduation picture is hanging over the fireplace.
Nicole Alexandria is off doing cool things like a boss that you probably never heard of while not giving a single fuck all day every day. You can contact her through Facebook.